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March 7, 2005

Press Release, March 8 (WG 14)

Thematic Subject Area IV: Civil Society
Working Group 14
Citizens as Actors

March 8th, the International summit on Democracy and terrorism will host an eleven member panel which will examine the often forgotten role of the citizen in the fight against terrorism. With the theory that, in addition to the state response, the strengthening of civil society is critical in formulating a long-term response to terrorism. The following questions will be debated:

  • Whether the state response to terrorism is sufficient, and if not, whether concrete possibilities exist for citizens to become actors in this struggle?
  • How citizens can and should be empowered in order to strengthen democracy from below. Are there specific experiences and/or lessons that we can learn from?
  • A look at specific organisations and/or networks that can be used to empower the citizen.
  • What are the likely problems that need to be overcome in different cultural contexts and/or networks?
The conclusions of this working group and 16 others will be incorporated into the Agenda of Madrid, which will be published on March 11th, 2005.

Working group members will include:


  • Rosiska Darcy de Oliveira (Brazil), president of the Women's Leadership Center, Brazil. Formerly president of the National Council on Women's Rights. Actively engaged in the cause of gender equality for more than thirty years.
  • Shirin Ebadi (Iran), lawyer and human rights activist in Iran. Awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her activism regarding refugee, women’s and children’s rights. Author of, among other books, History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (Roshangaran, 1993).
  • Hany El Banna (UK), director of Islamic Relief, Birmingham. Leading authority in promoting greater understanding between religions. Currently involved as a mediator in the peace process in Sudan. Frequently speaks on faith and development, both in Britain and abroad.
  • Lovemore Madhuku (Zimbabwe), chair of the National Constitutional Assembly in Zimbabwe. Prominent democracy activist in Zimbabwe. Frequently arrested by the authorities. Awarded the 2004 Civil Courage Prize.
  • Joel Rocamora (Philippines), director of the Institute of Popular Democracy, Manila. Democracy activist, and exiled for his political opposition to the Marcos regime. Author of Breaking Through: The Struggle Within the Communist Party of the Philippines (Anvil 1994).
  • Yahia Said (Iraq-UK), researcher at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics. Escaped from Iraq with his family in 1979. Formerly an active member of the Iraqi students' movement in exile.
  • Ghassan Salame (Lebanon), professor of International Relations at the Institut d’Études Politiques. Former Minister of Culture in Lebanon. Member of numerous international commissions, and frequent commentator on Arab and Middle Eastern politics.
  • Gi-Woong Son (South Korea), associate fellow of the Asia Programme at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, London. Also a research fellow at the Korean Institute for National Unification, he is an expert in unification of divided nations and North-South Korean exchange and cooperation.
  • Abdulayeva Arzu (Azerbaijan), president of the Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly. Azerbaijani human rights activist. Actively involved in political and humanitarian causes throughout the conflict with Armenia, as well as other issues related to violence in the Caucasus region (e.g. Chechnya).
  • Raymond Shonholtz (USA), founder of Partner for Democratic Changes. Established the first national Centers on change and conflict management in Central and Eastern Europe. Has written and lectured extensively on the subject of mediating systems, conflict resolution models, and conflict in democratic society. (External member)
  • Nikki Stern (USA), executive director of Families of September 11. Following 9/11, she was appointed families’ liaison for the New Jersey Governor. Served on numerous committees for victims. (External member)

With the collaboration ofSafe Democracy Foundation
Members of the Club de Madrid

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